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Analysis: SaaS Companies Are Hot Acquisitions

Analysis: SaaS Companies Are Hot Acquisitions
April 10, 2012 7:54AM


Latest SaaS Acquisitions Sold for More Than 7 Times Trailing 12-Month Revenue, Analysis Shows -- IBM, Oracle, SAP buying SaaS companies to gain market position; according to martinwolf M&A Advisors some of these deals will end up as bargains

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San Ramon, California, April 10, 2012 -- A new analysis from martinwolf M&A Advisors comparing mergers and acquisitions in the SaaS sector to those in other IT sectors revealed that on average SaaS companies are selling for 3.19 times more than their counterparts in the other sectors. Other sectors analyzed included IT Services and Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO), IT Supply Chain and traditional Software.

The analysis shows that in the past six months companies in these other sectors sold on average for 2.39 times trailing 12-month revenue while SaaS companies acquired by software industry giants IBM, Oracle and SAP were sold on average for 7.63 times trailing 12-month revenue -- or more than 3.19 times more.

In fact, on the high end, SAP paid more than 12 times trailing 12-month revenue for SuccessFactors, a standout leader in SaaS-based human capital management solutions. SuccessFactors had revenue of $291 million in the 12 months prior to its purchase; SAP paid $3.5 billion.

Analysis of prices paid for key SaaS companies acquired in the past six months ranged from 3.42 to 12.05 times trailing 12-month revenue, while those in other IT sectors ranged from .4 to 3.68 times trailing 12-month revenue.

According to Marty Wolf, president and founder of martinwolf M&A Advisors, "On the outside, some people might think the prices being paid for SaaS companies are too high. Our belief is that IBM, Oracle and SAP can make these deals into bargains. These companies are smart buyers and they know how to integrate companies and leverage their existing infrastructures, including sales, to capitalize on their strengths.

"In the end, these software leaders are paying for the future revenue stream, not the past," said Wolf. "So, if they can buy an asset for 7 times trailing 12-month revenue, and increase the sales 10 times in a few years time, they effectively make the purchase less than 1 times future revenue. Clearly they go into these deals knowing exactly how they will grow value."

Wolf cited a case in point for the 1990s. In 1996, IBM purchased Tivoli Systems for $743 million, which was about 10 times trailing 12-month revenue. At the time, many analysts opined that IBM had grossly overpaid for the asset. But within a year, IBM was able to leverage Tivoli into almost a billion dollars in revenue.

"So in the end, did IBM pay 10 times 12-month trailing revenue, or less than 1 time 12-month future revenue for Tivoli?, said Wolf. (continued...)

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